History of Earth Part 1: Problem Solving

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Students will be able to recognize and record important events in Earth's History.

Big Idea

Geologic events change biology.

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Purpose of Lesson:

 The purpose of this lesson is to have students map out the cause and effect of a meteor landing and see that events may start locally but can end up having a global impact.


Major Strategies to Watch for:

1. Flow map- A flow map is a graphic organizer which allows students to map out a series of events.

2. Stop and Go film- Stopping the film often gives the students a chance to discuss, predict, take notes and identify important terms.

Ready. Set. Engage!

5 minutes

Learning Goal: Understand how a meteor landing on one place on earth could cause catastrophes all over earth.

Opening Question:  What effects can a meteor cause?'

Students record their opening question on their learning goal sheet and are ready to start class 3 min after the bell has rung.  I reward students who get started early with ROCK STAR SCIENTIST tickets.  

Today I asked students to share ideas at their tables and then raise their hands to share with the class.  These ideas sparked interest in learning more about meteor events.

Follow the links to learn more about the beginning of class strategies and ROCK STAR scientist tickets


5 minutes

Our hook today is a flow map. I want students to see that one event can cause a chain of different events in earth's history. Students do this work with partners in their lab notebooks, however you can also use this template if you want students to turn it in. First, I have students make the beginning of a flow map. My students have done flow maps before, but it had been a while so in this video, I do a quick focus lesson on what a flow map is and how to make one. 

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The students all start with the same event as the first step, "A meteor hits the earth." Then I ask the students pairs to predict what some of the outcomes of that event might be. Later in the lesson, after watching the film, we return to the flow maps and compare our predictions with the film.

Understand and Describe the Problem

10 minutes

Today's problem is to understand the events that follow a large meteor hit and be able to use reasoning to explain the different events.

Students have made their prediction flow maps.  Before we start watching the film, I want students to really understand the problem of the day and what they will be watching for in the film. Having a specific purpose for watching a film gives students a different perspective on the same material.  

To start this process, I post this question on the board. "What are the events that follow a large meteor hit?"  I ask students to share out some of the ideas they had in their initial flow maps.  I put the ideas on the board but I also stop to probe the students for reasoning. For example, if a student says that a meteor would cause the death of animals I would say, "Why do you think that?  What is your reasoning?"  I'm doing this probe because I want students to think beyond their initial answers.  Many students that have watched asteroid movies or been to museums will know some of the effects of a meteor hit, but they might have only a fuzzy idea of the reasoning.  

Once we have this short discussion, I tell the students that we are going to be seeing the effects of a meteor impact in the film today and we want to be able to make a second flow map that has more information and reasoning to be able to answer the the problem on the board.

Obtain Information

20 minutes

I show the movie in short 13-20 min sections. I stop the film often and randomly to have students record notes on major events using a note catcher. I also use notes that are already made for students with slow processing or writing difficulties. These modified notes make it possible for all students to complete the final project. As we watch the movie, not only do I stop to talk about content but I also stop to point out important vocabulary words. Students record these vocabulary words in their TIP (Term- Information- Picture) charts. 

Today I show from 53:30 to 1:12 of the film The Story of Earth This section shows

- The rise of the dinosaurs

- Predator prey relationships

- The meteor hit

Use Information

15 minutes

The purpose of this section is for students to use their notes to adjust and add on to their flow map. I generally like to have students make a new flow map so that they can compare their initial thoughts with their later ones.  

Students get out their notes while I display the flow map on the board.  I have students put in information and reasoning on the their maps.  I encourage them to add more information than simply the events so that they can start to understand the cause and effect relationship in major disasters.  As students are working individually, I walk around and use Praise- Prompt- Leave to help students over difficult areas.  

One thing that I do in my classroom during independent work is I put on a "soft" music playlist at a low level.  This does wonders for helping students concentrate.

Evaluate / Revise the Answer

12 minutes

The purpose of this section is to let students compare their maps with another student and make changes.

I have students work with their lab partner for this activity. I ask the students to verbally walk through their map with their partner. This not only gives them another set of eyes but also means that they are reading their writing out loud. Students should make changes on the flow map as they feel they need. Partners should help by adding information or giving input on when information is not clear.


3 minutes

Closing Statement: Today we looked at a series of events that can start locally but end up having a global effect.

Closing Question: What did you learn about cause and effect today?

Closure depends greatly on timing and is not as easy to plan in advance as opening.  You can find more information about how I manage closure here.